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Three children die with suspected meningitis in Suffolk

2 January 2010

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) can confirm that three children from the Ipswich area have died from suspected meningitis. The first child died in mid-December 2009.


The Health Protection Agency (HPA) can confirm that three children from the Ipswich area have died from suspected meningitis. The first child died in mid-December 2009. At present it is not believed this case is linked to the most recent deaths (31st December 2009 and 1st January 2010). The HPA is awaiting laboratory test confirmation on the strain of disease from the most recent cases, with results expected early next week. 

The HPA’s Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Health Protection Unit (HPU), working with NHS Suffolk, has taken the necessary action to reduce the risk of further infection among contacts. Individuals in close household contact have been offered antibiotics to kill any bacteria they may be carrying and prevent it spreading.

Dr Torbjorn Sundkvist, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control from the HPU said: "Our thoughts are with the families of these children at this terrible time. Currently we have received no information that would link all three cases but we are continuing to investigate.

“Meningitis does not spread easily from one person to another, but we do occasionally see cases spread between close contacts such as family members. When a case of meningitis is diagnosed, the public health doctor will make sure that all those who need antibiotics are contacted.”

“Meningitis can be a very serious illness which develops rapidly. We do tend to see an increase in meningococcal infection at this time of year and it’s important that people everywhere, especially parents of young children, are aware of the signs and symptoms.”

The symptoms of meningitis are:

  • Severe headache
  • Raised temperature
  • Difficulty or pain when looking at light
  • Neck stiffness 
  • Vomiting
  • Rash of red-purple spots which does not fade when pressed
  • Drowsiness or confusion
  • Back or joint pains

Not all these symptoms may show at once.  If people are concerned about the symptoms displayed by a family member, they should seek medical advice from their GP or phone NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or call the Meningitis Trust which has a 24-hour nurse-led helpline on 0800 028 18 28.


ENDS

Notes to Editors:
Good web sources of information about Meningitis include:
The Meningitis Trust: www.meningitis-trust.org
The Health Protection Agency: www.hpa.org.uk
The Meningitis Research Foundation: www.meningitis.org

 

For further information contact: thomas.burn@hpa.org.uk
HPA East of England communications 01223 257919

Last reviewed: 4 January 2010